Violations of the rules regarding injury reporting usually happen when a team conceals a player’s health issue. Rarely does anyone get in trouble for reporting a fake injury, or for exaggerating a mild one.
The Steelers land in that unusual category, if Monday’s Antonio Brown bombshell is accurate (and there’s no reason to think it isn’t). So apart from the question of what the Steelers will do about Brown, it’s important to ask what the NFL will do about the Steelers.
As one league source has observed, “overt lying” on the injury report is a much bigger problem than Brown’s antics, because shenanigans with the injury report speak to competitive issues, about which the league office should be very concerned. It’s unknown whether the league office actually is concerned or will take action; the NFL has not responded to an inquiry from PFT regarding the situation.
Whatever happens and however it plays out, the Keith Butler/Tyler Eifert coverup suddenly pales in comparison to what apparently was a deliberate decision to hide the dysfunction by brushing off Brown’s absence from practice and from Sunday’s game as the product of an injury, when in fact there was no injury — or at a minimum no injury that would keep Brown from playing.
The motive for hiding the truth is obvious. The Steelers didn’t want yet another distraction or disruption as they faced a must-win game. And if word had emerged that Brown had: (1) thrown a football at Ben Roethlisberger; (2) stormed out of practice; and (3) not shown up for practice on Thursday or Friday, it would have been a HUGE distraction and disruption from preparations for Week 17.
The huge distraction and disruption has now arrived, but the Steelers have nothing else to currently do. Coach Mike Tomlin will still have to address the situation, since his end-of-season press conference will happen on Wednesday.
Unless he decides to not show up.